Location: Middle East

UAE - DIFC office

UAE - DIFC overview

Equiom in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Equiom’s portfolio in the UAE is wide-reaching with 4 offices in the region, each expert in their respective field. The offices all work closely together to ensure we continually share our expert knowledge amongst the team and to provide the highest level of service to all our clients. Many clients benefit from using a combination of solutions across the offices to support them across different service lines. 

Equiom in the DIFC is represented by:

Equiom Fiduciary Services (Middle East) Limited

Equiom launched in the DIFC in March 2019, under the operating name of Equiom (Isle of Man) Limited (DIFC Branch), before changing its licence over Equiom Fiduciary Services (Middle East) Limited in March 2022.

The office is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and is responsible for the promotion of a full range of trust and fiduciary services. The company’s offering meets the individual requirements of clients including high net worth individuals, family offices and corporations.

Equiom Corporate Services (Middle East) Limited (Regional HQ)

Equiom Corporate Services (Middle East) Limited oversees Equiom's compliance and risk management offering in the UAE. The highly knowledgeable and experienced team offers assistance with Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) licence applications, outsourced Compliance Officer and Money Laundering Reporting Officer functions, governance and risk management solutions, as well as delivering compliance and AML training. Equiom Corporate Services (Middle East) Limited was formed following the acquisition of HOLT consultancy in November 2018, before it rebranded to Equiom in July 2019.

Why choose the DIFC?

  • DIFC boasts 100% foreign ownership
  • DIFC has internationally accepted laws and regulatory processes
  • UAE is strategically located at the heart of one of the world’s most prosperous and rapidly developing regions 
  • Ranked 11 of 190 countries in the 2019 ‘Doing Business’ report published by the World Bank
  • UAE has low corporate taxes and no taxes imposed on expat salaries or wages
  • UAE has world class infrastructure in place with substantial investments being made in further infrastructure and industrial manufacturing projects
Equiom Fiduciary Services (Middle East) Limited is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA).

UAE - DIFC Services

Equiom in the DIFC offers individuals, family offices and businesses a full range of trust, fiduciary, compliance and risk management services.

  • International Pensions Plans and Employee Benefits

    International employee benefit schemes are a key consideration for employers who wish to retain and attract the best talent, ensuring a loyal and dedicated workforce.

    Most employees now expect global pension plans and end of service benefits as a vital part of their overall compensation package.

    Equiom has considerable experience in this area and offers a number of options when it comes to trustee services for pension arrangements, from employee benefits schemes and pensions to savings and share plans for expatriates and employers.

    Our range of services are offered in a number of jurisdictions around the world and include:

    • End of Service Benefit Plans
    • International Pension Plans 
    • Employee Benefit Trusts 
    • Employee Ownership Trusts 

    End of Service Benefit Plans

    End of service gratuity is a statutory obligation for companies across many Middle Eastern jurisdictions and is designed to help fund employees’ future retirement needs. The requirement for a company to pay End of Service Benefits (ESBs) is well known in this region and a frequently talked about subject. Equiom are the market leading trustee in the Middle East with over 20 years of experience and hold the prestigious role of Master Trustee to the DIFC Workplace Savings Plan (DEWS).

    International Pension Plans

    An International Pension Plan (IPP) involves a defined contribution plan that combines investment, administration and trust services which can be tailored to your company’s specific needs.

    IPPs are particularly popular with companies who have employees who work abroad on international assignments or are employed on a globally mobile basis.

    IPPs enable organisations to offer an advantageous pension scheme as part of an employee’s remuneration package - essential for attracting and retaining talent for multinational corporations.

    Employers have been utilising IPP arrangements over the years as an ideal solution for employees that either:

    • Move from their home country and are not able to remain in their home country pension scheme
    • Are employed in a country that has insufficient or no pension availability
    • Require a ‘top up’ to the local pension provision

    IPPs provide flexibility in several areas such as:

    • Contribution percentages for both employers and employees 
    • Currency and type of investment 
    • Vesting scales for employer contributions
    • Number of countries and employer linked entities included in the IPP
    • Benefit distribution options – lump sum, annuity, drawdown
    • Portability of the members' pension pot

    Employee Benefit Trusts

    Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) have been established for several years to encourage employee share participation, acting as an important incentive for staff loyalty and productivity.

    The term EBT is applied to a number of different types of trust. In general, an employer sets up an EBT as a vehicle to reward, motivate and incentivise employees. The benefits provided may be a share of profits, shares in the employer company, cash distributions or other employee incentives.

    The features of EBTs include:

    • A discretionary trust holding assets on behalf of a class of beneficiaries
    • The trust is funded by the employer company
    • The trustees provide employee benefits in recognition of performance and other related factors
    • It is at the decision of the trustees only as to whom may benefit from the trust assets and the extent of such benefit

    Benefits of EBTs:

    • Share warehousing removes complex and costly UK share buyback provisions
    • Private equity - allowing the company to buy back shares of a departing executive
    • EBTs have been used as a market maker for the sale and purchase of shares in the employer company
    • Tax considerations including capital gains tax and corporation tax

    Employee Ownership Trusts 

    An Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) is a form of trust which holds the shares in a trading company for the benefit of employees. Unlike a conventional employee benefit trust, any benefit it confers on employees must include all of them (although a qualifying period of up to 12 months is allowed) on the same terms. EOTs allow shareholders of trading companies to sell some or all of their shares, while allowing those companies to continue under the same stewardship, creating a platform for continued growth and success.

    Benefits of EOTs:

    • Shareholders can sell their shares for full market value (based on an independent valuation)
    • The directors and senior management can remain in place and continue to run the company
    • No capital gains, income or inheritance tax liabilities should arise on the disposal of a controlling interest in a company to an EOT (or on the subsequent receipt of the purchase price by the former shareholders)
    • Companies controlled by EOTs are also able to pay to employees cash bonuses of up to £3,600 each year without any income tax liability, provided that these are paid to all qualifying employees on the same terms


    For more information regarding any of the above plans, please get in touch with Chris Cain or Mary Craven

    Equiom Fiduciary Services (Middle East) Limited is the Master Trustee and Operator of DEWS and is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). 
    This material is intended only for Professional Clients and Market Counterparties as defined by the DFSA, and no other person should act upon it. However all employers and employees participating in an Employee Money Purchase Scheme will be treated as Retail Clients under the DFSA requirements.
    Any underlying investment options which may be selected in the structure can carry investment risk, whereby the value of the underlying investments can go down as well as up.
  • Risk & Compliance Services

    We provide outsourced compliance services to ensure that you remain compliant with the rules and regulations set out by local regulatory bodies. We work with you to ensure robust systems and controls are in place and provide additional compliance or risk management support where needed. Our knowledgeable team specialises in compliance across multiple sectors from asset management to private and investment banking.

    Equiom’s managed compliance solutions are the perfect complement to any organisation, delivering considerable benefits. Our hands-on experience means we help our clients develop and manage effective compliance programs to identify issues before they become violations.

    This service is ideal for those thinking of setting up in a new region, looking to consolidate an existing business, in need of temporary cover for unexpected staff absences or even wishing to undertake additional compliance training. 

    Our compliance and risk management services include: 

    • Providing suitable individuals to act as Compliance Officer and / or Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) on an outsourced basis 
    • Training and mentoring or ad hoc support for an existing in-house compliance / anti-money laundering (AML) function
    • Assisting in preparation for regulatory risk assessments or responding to enforcement proceedings
    • Conducting mock interviews to prepare individuals for authorisation by the local regulator
    • Compliance and AML focused audits, reviews or special projects
    • Creating mandatory compliance, AML and counter terrorist financing materials
    • Delivering all aspects of compliance and AML training as required by the regulator

    We provide advice and guidance on:

    • A firm’s ability to meet local regulatory requirements 
    • The duties and responsibilities of Authorised Individuals 
    • A firm’s policies, procedures, systems and controls 
    • Regulatory risk assessments, thematic reviews or regulatory visits 
    • The set-up of the compliance function and creating a strong compliance culture
    • Data protection advisory

    Benefits of outsourcing your compliance function include: 

    • Access to a pool of subject matter experts
    • A convenient and cost-effective way to address regulatory issues
    • Swift access to additional support in times of change, such as firms facing sudden growth and / or increased regulatory demands
    • Ease the burden on internal infrastructure 
    • Address a short-term or long-term shortage of talent
    • Help to navigate complex and continually changing regulations
  • Structure Set Up & Support Services

    Equiom offers tailored professional solutions and structures to clients who are considering establishing a new business, transferring, redomiciling or reorganising an existing company. With over 45 years of experience, we have become a market leader in providing quality administration, accounting and tax services. Our goal is to assist clients in meeting their business needs allowing them to focus on their specialisms. 

    We provide a wide range of comprehensive corporate services that cater to all stages of a business's lifecycle. Our expertise in administering complex structures is a fundamental aspect of our business, derived from years of practical experience and success underpinned by a client centric solution focussed model. 

    Through our integrated corporate services, we take a proactive approach to day-to-day governance, administration, and financial reporting, as well as tackling complex transactions with a solution-oriented mindset. 

    We offer the following company services for organisations:

    • Company formation and implementation including structure incorporation, establishment and registration 
    • Corporate administration services including registered office services 
    • Corporate governance 
    • Compliance services 
    • Company re-domiciliation services and entity re-domiciliation services  
    • Directorship and nominee shareholder services 
    • Economic substance considerations and support 
    • Corporate secretarial services 
    • Tax advisory services 
    • Accounting, tax and financial reporting  
    • Global expansion for your business and expert support on any market restrictions or local regulatory requirements to consider (including government liaison and Public Relations Officer (PRO) support services) 
    • Other ancillary services as required 
  • Trustee & Fiduciary Services

    Trust is something that is earned

    Operating throughout the world’s most stable and reputable jurisdictions, our international trust and foundation specialists identify the most appropriate trust structures to protect and enhance your private or corporate wealth and assets.

    Our experienced teams operate in both common law and civil law jurisdictions. We guide you through the complexities of local laws and regulations to find the right solution for you, organising the initial establishment of a trust or foundation and administering it carefully to maximise the benefits. We ensure its legal and tax status is maintained and provide regular accounting and financial reporting.

    Over the years, we have earned an enviable reputation as leading professional trustees, dedicated to maintaining our clients’ prosperity. We aim to give you more control over your assets today, and more confidence about your holdings tomorrow – helping ensure that your family, employees, or favoured charities are well looked after for years to come.

    In the DIFC, Equiom (through Equiom Fiduciary Services (Middle East) Limited) offers :

    • Establishment and administration of trusts and foundations, which can hold a variety of financial and non-financial assets
    • Dedicated accounting and financial reporting
    • Estate planning
    • The establishment and maintenance of banking relationships
    • DIFC Trusts

    We can also assist with:

    • Private trust companies
    • Managed trust companies
    • Employee benefit trusts
    • Employee ownership trusts
    • Charitable trusts
    • Property unit trusts
    • Purpose trusts
    • Will trusts/pilot trusts
    • Executor services
    • Benefits of a trust
    • Asset protection and careful planning to ensure tax efficiency
    • Succession planning with full control on how assets are distributed upon death  
    • Confidentiality and the avoidance of a public probate court hearing

    Equiom Fiduciary Services (Middle East) Limited is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA).


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